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FIRST ON FOX: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has spent $7 million from President Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package on a program to replace diesel school buses with electric ones in underserved communities.
The EPA’s 2021 American Rescue Plan (ARP) has allocated $7 million of Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act funds to schools to replace up to four diesel buses with electric school buses totaling $1.2 million dollars or $300,000 each.
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According to the EPA, funds allocated by the ARP to the EPA are specifically intended for “activities that identify and address disproportionate harms and risks to the environment or public health in minority or low-income populations. “.
The school bus reimbursement program was tailored only to applicants from underserved school districts, tribal schools, and private fleets serving those schools, and replacement buses had to be electric, according to the EPA. Approved schools, which were selected by lottery, have until October to show that they have purchased the new buses and scrapped the old ones.
A webinar for program applicants, which was published last October, said: “Diesel engines emit nitrogen oxides (NOx), particulate matter (PM) and other harmful pollutants”, and that “so newer buses must meet stricter EPA emission standards, many older school buses continue to emit harmful diesel exhaust.”
In total, the program provided funding for 23 electric school bus replacements and associated charging infrastructure at 11 different schools across the country. At $300,000 per bus, the EPA was left with $100,000 of ARP funds remaining, which the agency says Fox News Digital will be allocated “properly to another program or department” after consulting with its budget staff. .
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“Science shows a clear link between air pollution and the public health impacts of respiratory illnesses such as COVID-19,” the EPA said in a statement to Fox News Digital. “Electric school buses provide cleaner air for children, school bus drivers and the community.
“The EPA is providing cleaner air through the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) program that allows school districts to replace diesel-powered buses with electric school buses as well as other cleaner alternatives,” it said. he continued. “Through the U.S. Rescue Plan (ARP), Congress provided additional funding to the EPA’s DERA program to address the public health concerns of low-income and minority populations who bear a disproportionate burden of air pollution. The ARP funding provided to the EPA’s DERA program is reserved exclusively for school districts in underserved communities, tribal schools, and private fleets serving those schools, while the annual DERA program is open to all eligible states.
Vice President Kamala Harris celebrated the EPA program at a White House event in March announcing rebate winners.
“Imagine a future: the freight trucks that deliver bread and milk to our grocery store shelves and the buses that take children to school and parents to work; imagine all the heavy vehicles that keep our supply lines and allow our economy to grow – imagine they produced zero emissions,” Harris said March 7. make the possible happen.”
The American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act, which Democrats passed in March 2021 without any Republican support, was touted by the Democratic Party as a necessity for reopening schools during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Democrats like Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., described ARP’s passing as a matter of life and death.
“This is a time when it’s very clear that public policy is literally a matter of life and death,” Warnock said during a February 2021 press conference with Sen. Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., adding that the bill would provide “more than $4 billion to Georgia K State across 12 schools to ensure the safety and health of students, teachers, and staff and to address learning loss.”
But the ARP faces increasing scrutiny over its effect on the US economy after inflation rose 8.5% last month. Some economists, including former economic advisers to the Obama administration, have blamed the $1.9 COVID-19 relief package for overheating the economy.
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Fox News Digital reported last month that blue states across the country are using billions of ARP taxpayer dollars to advance the core tenets of Critical Race Theory (CRT) in public schools.
Meanwhile, the EPA used $5.25 million allocated by the ARP last year for an environmental justice program that funded grants for projects that had virtually nothing to do with the fight against COVID-19 or the effects of the pandemic, including a non-profit organization that uses “storytelling” and “tree walks” to “increase awareness and dialogue around inequitable tree canopy cover “.
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